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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

UW, WWU rank as best college values by national magazine

The University of Washington and Western Washington University have once again made it on the list of 100 top public schools that offer the most value for the money. The ranking of colleges and universities is done annually by Kiplinger’s Magazine.

The UW ranks 11th in value for in-state students. WWU ranks 91st. They’re the only two Washington public schools that made the list, ranking in the top 100 best values for both in-state and out-of-state students.

On a separate Kiplinger’s ranking that compared private universities, two Spokane schools make the top 100: Gonzaga University, 36th, and Whitworth University, 45th. And among liberal arts colleges, Whitman College in Walla Walla ranks 29th.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington, Western Washington University

December 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

State’s first charter school on probation; timeline set for fixes

A state commission overseeing charter schools on Wednesday released a series of deadlines for improvements to the state’s first charter school, First Place Scholars in Seattle, which has floundered since classes began in September.

By Jan. 5, the school must hire an interim special education director, to replace a contractor who quit in late October. Currently, no First Place teacher is qualified to work with some two dozen kids who qualify for help with special needs.

And by this Friday, the school must describe how it  has been meeting those kids’ needs since the contractor left.

The deadlines are part of ongoing negotiations between the commission and First Place following the commission’s rejection of the school’s improvement plan last week. Not only did the school fail to turn in its proposed fixes on time, it hardly addressed any of the commission’s concerns, the commission said in a letter to the school Tuesday.

As a result, the school is now on probation, meaning commission staff will visit monthly to make sure the school is following  its charter, a contract that allows First Place to operate as a publicly funded, privately run institution, similar to thousands of charter schools in nearly every other state across the country.

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Comments | Topics: charter, charter schools, First Place

December 17, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Roundup: Edmonds superintendent reprimanded; threats close Issaquah school

Edmonds superintendent reprimanded by school board: The Edmonds School Board reprimanded Superintendent Nick Brossoit earlier this year over two incidents in which he crossed boundaries with district staff. In one case, Brossoit asked an assistant superintendent about the details of a letter of reference she wrote for Brossoit’s wife.

Issaquah school closed after threatening note found on campus: Pacific Cascade Middle School in Issaquah canceled classes Wednesday after a threatening note was found outside a teacher’s classroom. The letter threatened violence against four staff members, the district said.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: roundup

December 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Students need more help with college costs, state council says

A state council that’s responsible for charting the future of  Washington’s higher education system recommends a big increase in college financial aid programs.

That was one of the recommendations the council recently made to Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature, saying more aid would help more Washington students get the training needed to fill jobs in the future.

Inslee followed some of the panel’s recommendations when he released his education budget highlights Monday, but not all of them.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education

December 16, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Gov’s plan would spur court sanctions, says state schools chief

Washington state schools chief Randy Dorn lambasted Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed education budget Tuesday, saying it falls far short of what the state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to do when it comes to how much money they provide to public schools.

In his budget, released Monday, Inslee said he wants to pay for all-day public kindergarten and reduce average class sizes in grades K-3. But he did not set any money aside for reducing the number of students per class  in grades 4-12, which voters approved in the November election. And while Inslee suggests reinstating cost-of-living raises for teachers, Dorn says that’s not enough.

To meet the court’s requirements, Dorn said, lawmakers must fund a basic education for all students, without school districts having to contribute to those costs through local property tax levies.

“This issue is not complicated,” Dorn wrote. “Over and over again our courts have ruled that relying on levies to fund a major portion of our education system is unconstitutional.”

Dorn said Inslee’s proposal, if adopted, will lead the Supreme Court to sanction lawmakers.

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Comments | Topics: class size, Education budget, Initiative 1351

December 16, 2014 at 4:13 PM

UW panel: Triple the UW medical school program in Spokane

A University of Washington panel headed by former Gov. Dan Evans believes the best way to quickly increase the number of doctors working in rural Washington is for the UW to expand its medical school program in Spokane.

The panel also recommends creating more residencies in rural areas, particularly Eastern Washington.

It did not weigh in on what’s become a sore point between UW and Washington State University:  whether it’s also necessary for WSU to build its own, separate medical school in Spokane to alleviate the physician shortage. The panel’s report notes that it was not given the task of determining “if a separately accredited medical school is necessary or should be pursued by WSU.”

The UW and WSU, which used to work together to provide medical training at WSU’s Spokane campus, split earlier this year over how best to increase the number of doctors in Washington’s rural areas. There is a shortage of primary care doctors in those areas today, a problem that’s expected to get worse as baby boom-era doctors retire.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: higher education, University of Washington, Washington State University

December 16, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Roundup: Inslee budget includes all-day kindergarten; district investigates Garfield field trip

Inslee’s budget calls for all-day kindergarten, teacher raises: Gov. Jay Inslee released highlights from his proposed education budget on Monday, calling for reduced class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, all-day public kindergarten, and cost-of-living raises for teachers. Inslee hailed his $2.3 billion proposal as “the biggest increase in basic education in a quarter-century.”

School district to investigate Garfield High field trip: Seattle Public Schools says it will investigate a recent Garfield High School overnight field trip during which male and female students shared sleeping areas while camping. Principal Ted Howard said the school has not received any reports of inappropriate activity.

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December 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Using discipline to help kids feel better about school, not worse

Nicholas Bradford, founder, Restorative Justice Center of the Northwest

Nicholas Bradford, founder of the Restorative Justice Center of the Northwest. Courtesy photo.

Schools nationwide are facing the hard-to-refute fact that using suspension to discipline students doesn’t do much to improve their behavior — and may make it worse.

But what if there was a way to nudge kids who disrupt classrooms or bully peers to atone for those violations by confronting them?

What if the atonement itself actually strengthened the relationship between students and their schools?

Nicholas Bradford, a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, says such a technique exists, and it’s called Restorative Justice. Maybe that sounds a bit kumbaya, but the approach has been used successfully in tough Oakland schools and in some prisons.

Bradford spoke with Education Lab about this practice, and its implications for students here.

Q: What exactly is Restorative Justice, and why do you think it’s a smart way to approach school discipline?

A: It’s an approach to conflict that holds a youth accountable for harm, while simultaneously building relationships. The usual way — suspending kids — just pushes them out and further damages the relationship between student and teacher.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: discipline, Nicholas Bradford, race

December 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Seattle charter school plan to be public Tuesday

A Seattle charter school’s plan to fix a slew of problems will be made public Tuesday, according to the head of the state commission governing charter schools.

Joshua Halsey, the commission’s executive director, initially said the plan and the commission’s response to it would be available to the public Monday. He said Monday the documents will be published Tuesday.

On Thursday, the commission rejected the school’s corrective action plan, saying it was deficient and submitted late.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: charter schools, First Place Scholars Charter School, Joshua Halsey

December 15, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Round-up: Handwriting expert will examine Beacon Hill tests, Shanghai tops homework list

Handwriting expert to examine Seattle test booklets: Seattle Public Schools plans to hire a handwriting expert to examine test booklets from Beacon Hill International School, whose scores were tossed out by state officials earlier this fall. Many wrong answers on Beacon Hill’s exams were erased and changed from incorrect to correct answers, officials say.

Four injured in shooting at Portland alternative school (The Oregonian): Extra police and counseling personnel were on hand Monday at a Portland school where four students were injured in a shooting on Friday. Police have said the shooting was gang-related; there were no fatalities.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

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